Walking Dead Episode 1 - Review

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Before I start talking about The Walking Dead Game, let me begin by saying that I'm a big fan of the Walking Dead franchise, and a bigger fan of Telltale Games.  I have been a fan since the first season of Sam and Max, and never gave up hope on the studio.  Even after the disappointment of Jurassic Park, I still preordered Walking Dead soon as possible.

I am very, very glad I did not lose hope.  The story of Lee Everett and his adopted daughter Clementine is an interesting, exciting tale that fits perfectly into the Walking Dead universe.

Walking Dead the Game
Developer - Telltale Games
Release Date - April 24th 2012 (PC)

From the start Telltale has said that the game was adapted from the comic books, not the show. Still, despite Telltale's assurances, I was worried.  What if they tried to cash out on the success of AMC's adaptation?  Luckily, my concerns were unnecessary, as the game was excellently adapted from the original comic.

For me, the comics always felt tenser than the show.  More about the struggle of trusting each other, and dealing with their demons than the show touched on.  Walking Dead the Game replicated the tension of the comics perfectly.  It might be the most intelligent game by Telltale so far, always demanding quick-thinking during conversations and the 'big choice' scenes.

See, there's a time limit on all choices.  The conversations go at an accurate speed, giving you a few seconds to think before you say something stupid to a character.  Usually, you offend one character and another will appreciate you more.  Of course, there were down-time moments that gave the player a chance to explore the area before the next dramatic moment happened.
To give an example of the conflicts, Lee is put in the middle of two group leaders - Ken and Larry. The two argue about what the fate of another survivor who might have been infected, and what must be done. Lee can either try to work things out, or get into a fight with one of the two.  Personally, I got into a fight with Larry, which I'm sure will carry consequences into the next episode of the series.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the conflict plays out.

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We already met two characters from the main story, Glenn and Hershal.  Glenn was typical Glenn in all three productions.  Hershal though, who acts completely different in comic and television series, seems to have been designed off the comic book version of himself.  Let me put it this way...You don't want to piss Hershal off.

While I have always been a fan of Glenn, I think my favorite character will now be Ken.  Ken is the "Rick Grimes" of the group.  He has a wife and kid, and will take the lead when no one else does.  Lee seems to be more like Tyrese than anyone.  Hell, he even used a hammer - Tyrese style - towards the beginning of the episode.  It was when he used that hammer that I realized how gory the game was going to get.

While Walking Dead the Game isn't as detailed in it's violence as the comic or show, it's a huge step for Telltale compared to their other franchises.  The gore isn't the only thing different about this game from Telltale's other work.  The biggest difference for me, was the way the controls work.  The game feels a lot like Heavy Rain, in both it's controls, gameplay mechanics, and high-tension moments.   Except, ya know, with zombies.

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Walking Dead works differently from other Telltale titles, but keeps the general point and click controls.  The main character is made to move around with the WSAD keys, and items/characters are selected via the usual point and click interface.  The differences start in the action scenes.  Control over movement is replaced with quick-time events, while the player looks for what he needs to complete the scene.  Once he finds the item, the camera switches to first person as you try to survive the attack by aiming and clicking at his attacker.

Overall, the game is a perfect step in the evolution of Telltale, after years of Monkey Island and Sam and Max styled games.  I just hope the studio manages to 'infect' their other games with the same enthusiasm put into making Episode 1.

+ Great Storytelling
+ Fits well into the Walking Dead universe
+ Already feel invested in characters
-  Finished episode in under two hours

You can read other reviews by me and other equally cool people at chronogamers.com

I really would appreciate feedback on how to become a better writer, thanks!

I'm a big fan of Telltale's games, so I'm taking your offhanded comments on their other games as an insult. You know what, they're not games, they're interactive animated TV series. Can't we just be satisfied with that?

If anyone else is experiencing technical issues, there is a page with a bunch of fixes to the game here: http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/The_Walking_Dead:_The_Game

 

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